An Amer­i­can Gothic Barn

Farm & Ranch Living - - THIS OLD BARN - PHOTO BY JUSTIN ROGERS ANKENY, IOWA

IT’S AN ICONIC IMAGE, syn­ony­mous with Amer­i­cana art. And if you’re driv­ing down U.S. High­way 30 in Mount Ver­non, Iowa, at some point you’ll see it in the dis­tance: the fa­mous Amer­i­can Gothic paint­ing on the side of a barn. Martha Par­sons, who owns the barn, com­mis­sioned Mark Be­nesh in 2008 to paint a mu­ral, some­thing she had seen done else­where. They talked and even­tu­ally landed on Grant Wood’s Amer­i­can Gothic paint­ing, which is set in Iowa. They reached out to the fam­ily of Nan Wood Gra­ham, the woman por­trayed in the orig­i­nal art­work, for per­mis­sion, and paid a fee to repli­cate it. To pre­pare the gi­ant can­vas, ce­ment board and primer were added to the sides of the barn. Mark says this step was key be­cause wood ex­pands and con­tracts with mois­ture. The ce­ment board keeps the paint­ing from warp­ing over time. Af­ter cre­at­ing a mock-up and de­tailed grid, Mark got busy paint­ing. It took three weeks to cre­ate the mu­ral, which catches the eye of many driv­ers—some of whom pull off the road briefly to snap a photo.

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